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Stock Upgrades: Yum Brands Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is


Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Unless something was lost in translation -- quite possible, with Rosetta Stone (RST) slumping 5.96% -- Greeks work far harder than Germans. Hence Angela Merkel got a decidedly frosty reception in Athens when she said nein, nein, nein to additional aid.

Mr. 999 himself Herman Cain once waxed lyrical about the "Chilean model" to save Social Security. Hopefully he was long shares of Santiago's own pension provider Administradora de Fondos de Pensiones Provida SA (PVD), which gained 8.50% to a fresh 52-week peak. Spain's Bankia (BNKXF), famous for its leaning towers, nose-dived another 9.8% but at least Iberians are having fun with it. ET phoned home 30 years ago -- that must have been some cell tower -- and telecom outfit Otelco IDS (OTT) appropriately commemorated the occasion with an 18.75% increase.

The pace of economic data picks up after a quiet start to the week, with August wholesale inventories out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern and the Fed's beige book due at 2:00 p.m. In earnings action, Costco (COST), Google (GOOG), Helen of Troy (HELE), Host Hotels (HST), and Progressive Corp. (PGR) are all due to report results.

AuRico Gold (AUQ): The stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Canaccord, which cites the sale of its Ocampo Mine. The price objective is also increased, to $9.50.

Corporate Office Properties (OFC): Shares are moved to Neutral from Underperform at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Dollar Tree (DLTR): DLTR is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo, which says its solid comparative sales trends will continue.

Dominion Resources (D): The electric utility gets upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse amid increased earnings visibility and dividend growth. The target is $59.

Flushing Financial (FFIC): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital after meeting with management.

Host Hotels (HST): RBC Capital hoists HST to Top Pick from Outperform with an intact $19 target price. Catalysts include a low cost of capital and superior operating platform.

M&T Bank (MTB): MTB gets moved to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Qualcomm (QCOM): The tech stock is increased to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas.

Ralph Lauren (RL) Piper Jaffray raises its recommendation on the clothing company to Overweight from Neutral on expectations it will benefit from the current apparel replenishment cycle. The target price is also increased to $182 from $158.

Shutterfly (SFLY): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald.

True Religion (TRLG): Shares, surging before the bell, are taken to Hold from Underweight with KeyBanc Capital.

Volkswagen (VLKAY): The German auto giant gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM): Crédit Agricole gives the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell a Buy-from-Outperform boost amid improved visibility in China. The price objective is raised to $80 from $76.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Don't Stuff All Your Money Under the Select Comfort Mattress and Stock Downgrades: American Eagle -- An Earthbound Big Bird.)
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